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Viewing the 'Spending' Category

Second Laundry Post for the Day

April 4th, 2017 at 03:39 pm

I mentioned in my post earlier today, that I have the hang of drying sheets hanging up in various places in our home. Sheets dry pretty fast, too.

Today, I needed to do a load of laundry. I decided I needed to bite the bullet and spend money on a laundry drying rack. I started the washer and went on my way to purchase one. I found a wood one at Walmart for just under $18 (although online it says $15 and I forgot I wanted to question it at the register). I did have to put it together, but it wasn't too hard, may have been harder if I had seen the instructions before I put it together! They seemed confusing. My laundry was washed at this point, so I went about hanging up some pants, shorts, under garments, socks and hand towels. I hung the shirts up on hangers and have those hanging in our bathroom. I expect that these will be mostly dry before we go to bed. I will fold them at that time.

And if I didn't point out this in another post about saving money on electricity, I'm considering the cost of the wood drying rack an investment that should pay big returns in lower electricity bills Specifically, I saved two loads of laundry from the dryer today, and the cost associated with running it. Yea!

More Money Coming!

March 27th, 2017 at 05:12 pm

My husband told me today that we will be getting about $105 from his recent travel reimbursement. This was the trip where he bought some friends dinner to the tune of $140. That meal isn't specifically being reimbursed, of course, but it will offset that expense a bit. I didn't think he was getting anything extra.

Our college daughter was home for spring break last week, so we did a little clothes shopping, went out to eat a couple times, and celebrated her birthday with cake from a bakery. And now the funds left that we budgeted through the end of the month are getting slim.

I did jump ahead in the budget a bit and bought tickets for my husband, daughter and I to see a local Sherlock Holmes play in early April. Those three tickets were $55 total. And we will be seeing Beauty and the Beast in the theater this coming weekend. This much more than we usually spend on entertainment in a short period of time. But thankful that we can afford to do so when we find something that is of interest for all of us.

I listed four CDs on eBay today in a lot. Not sure if they will sell or not. I think I may have listed them for sale in the past, but I don't have a record of it on my account any longer. So if I did it was more than two months ago. I figured I would try one more time. Smile

I've been doing pretty good at accumulating Swagbucks, but I'm going to need to spend my time getting my garden planted soon. I'm going to do zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, lettuce, snow peas, onions, cucumber and strawberries. I'm going to do the strawberries in a pot on our screened in porch to keep the birds away! I'm not real optimistic about them, but my younger daughter insists since she didn't like them when she was younger and didn't get to eat any!

Oh, I thought I'd ask those of you world travelers what you think about exchanging currency before a trip? How much of the total expected costs would you want to have in the foreign currency? 20%? 50%? The teacher leading the trip can exchange for a lower fee at her bank. We know some cash is likely a good idea. She would need pounds for the two days in London, and euros for the remaining ten or eleven days. She also has a no foreign transaction fee debit card that she will likely use as well. I think we may also add her as an authorized user on one of our credit cards, as an extra back up option.

Reusable Feminine Hygiene

March 20th, 2017 at 04:27 pm

Hopefully, the title gives you a heads up what this post is about and if you aren't interested you have moved on!

I redeemed Swagbucks earlier this month for an Amazon gift card and I made that free money count by ordering a Vida Cup (a menstrual cup). It's reusable thus saving me from buying tampons each month. Mine was priced at $12.77 plus tax and free Prime shipping. Again, it was free to me since I used an earned gift card.

I think I spend about $5 a month on tampons. I also buy pantyliners in large quantity one or twice a year. I can't remember how much those are. I will estimate I spend between $65-75 a year. Not a lot, but that does add up over the many years women are menstruating.

I have used a menstrual cup in the past for many years, but something changed physically for awhile that made me abandon it a few years ago and I eventually tossed it out.

I decided to try it again knowing the more one can use reusable items rather than disposable items, the more one can save! There are other health reasons why a menstrual cup can be better than tampons. I will let you do your own research on why that is.

My next step is to make some homemade (and reusable) cotton pads. I haven't decided on which way I will make them yet. I'm still doing my research online. If I find a video or instructions that I do end up using I will try to remember to link it up here. The menstrual cup works so well, I don't expect to need very many each month.

I'm not going to go into the details of how these are used particularly because this is a financial site. However, there are many reviews on YouTube as well as forums where people discuss the details, which are very helpful to first time users. Just do a online search to get more information.

So, anyone else here want to share if they use a menstrual cup or not? Anyone think they might try one?

Chase Southwest Credit Card Offer

March 17th, 2017 at 01:21 pm

Chase is offering 50,000 points on their Southwest Rapids Rewards credit cards after spending $2,000 in the first three months. There is a $99 annual fee. Depending on the trip, you might be able to score two roundtrip tickets. Or you could redeem points for about $500 in gift cards (do this before you would close the card!)

We love Southwest for their prices, free checked bags, and open seating options. Customer service is great too! Just today in the mail I received four drink coupons for being a cardmember for two years. That's kind of nice perk, not that we would usually buy liquor on a plane trip.

If you are able to pay off your credit card charges in full each month and are interested in the Southwest card, I would be honored if you used my referral link. I will receive 5000 points.

Our smoke alarms started going off this morning. Luckily no fire and my cat and I were the only ones home. The smoke detectors are hard wired in the house, but do have battery backup. We replaced the batteries less than a year ago. I'm surprised they were going off already. It's possible there was another reason. But at any rate, I bought six new 9 volt batteries that we will install this evening. The batteries cost $18.94 plus tax. Why are 9 volts so expensive? Of course, safety for less than $20 is well worth it. And I sure don't want to be woken up by the alarms unless there is a real fire!

Lowering Electricity Costs

March 14th, 2017 at 11:49 am

Our electricity bill arrived today in my inbox (do people still get these in the mail?). I'm glad to say it is down again from the month prior to $164.92.

In fact compared to last March it is down as well. That $300+ bill two months ago brought home the fact that we could do better when it comes to our electricity use.

I'm going to guess most of the electricity is from heating (except for a gas fireplace, the home is all electric). We are in another cold snap, so we'll see what the next bill looks like!

I've made an effort to make sure we are skipping the water heating for washing clothes. I also unplugged my daughter's Wii U and shut down my husband's computer. The computer was probably drawing some power since it's battery doesn't really hold a charge very well and DH generally just puts it to sleep rather than full shut down mode.

My next step is to start experimenting with drying our clothes without the dryer. I will probably use it for 5 minutes for each load to give the clothes a head start on drying. We already do hang some graphic T shirts (since the designs fade and crack in the dryer) and fleece items (since they dry fast). I figure this will be quite helpful in keeping electricity costs down, while also keeping more heat out of our home this summer.

My first plan is to avoid buying anything, but I may need to buy a drying rack. I cannot put up a clothes line per our neighborhood covenants (sometimes these rules irritate me!).

I might also look into a water heater blanket, but possibly not until fall as it will be hot here very soon. Our water heater is in our unheated garage so I can imagine that is not very efficient.

Do you use your dryer? What do you do to conserve electricity?

Need a New Headlight

March 11th, 2017 at 08:36 am

We noticed last night that we need a new headlight for my van. My husband just replaced both on his truck earlier this month. We will replace both at the same time, as we have learned they tend to wear out around the same time. I'm not sure we have ever replaced them on this van, which is 10 years old. But that seems a bit long, so I'm probably not remembering.

That will likely cost us $50 together. I guess if they really last ten years then that is a very good price.

Edited to Update: Found a pair of headlights on Amazon that were about $30 with tax (mine are different then our truck). I had about $2.33 in Amazon gift cards and will be able to claim $25 in American Express rewards, so that our out of pocket cost will be just $2.88!

Things have seemed spendy this month. I'm looking forward to payday on Wednesday!

Picking Up the Tab

March 8th, 2017 at 06:10 pm

I went shopping today to use some coupons. I had $10 off a $10 purchase at JC Penney. I found a new sports bra and a tank top and paid $1.13 since both items were on clearance. I also looked at Kohl's as I had a $5 coupon, but the truth is I didn't see anything I wanted.

Our Time Warner Cable bill arrived today. It due in about two weeks. I noticed that the prices went up! It's only $3.06, but that is another $36.72 a year. I've been contemplating getting rid of our basic television plan which cost us $34 plus taxes each month. I'm not sure if our internet would then go up too. That could save us $408 a year.

My husband is out of town at a training event and was lucky enough to meet up with some great co workers from his last unit. They are all in different states now! While not obligated, as the highest ranking person, he felt like paying the tab. I don't know the full amount yet, but the credit card is showing a pending payment of $115. There were five people and I saw beer in the picture he sent me. Smile My husband has had meals paid for him many times in the past, so I know it is the right thing to do.

Debt Free Charts & More

March 6th, 2017 at 03:34 pm

I came across a blog that offers free countdown type charts. There are numerous different ones. The charts look a big like a picture in some cases, say if you were saving up for a house. Smile The debt free chart is the words DEBT FREE. You fill the words from bottom to top, kind of like those thermometer charts when an organization is saving for something. Not sure if I'm explaining well at all. Check them out here. There are a couple YouTube videos on the page where you can see someone explain how they are using them.

No money spent by me today. My husband had breakfast and lunch provided for him at his training. Dinner was also provided but he was full from lunch and going to skip it. But in the same conversation he said he was going to buy some snacks. So not sure what the actual spending is.

I made a yummy rice dish with mushrooms. My daughter loved it. Very easy, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of you already make something like this. I will definitely make it again.

Today I washed the blanket our cat Riley had spent so much time on in the days before her death. I hadn't washed it yet, as our older cat, Liberty, seemed to be enjoying it since then. But it is now closer to spring and it was time to get it washed. It was kind of sad to pull the lint trap out and see if full of her fur. Frown I still so grateful for the time that she was a part of our family.

In other news, I have accumulated 1354 Swagbucks. Closer to my $15 Amazon gift card goal. But then I have found another item I may want to buy and that puts my total closer to $20. I may hold off though on that one, as it isn't a true need.

Spring Break Spending

March 2nd, 2017 at 04:29 am

We have two spring breaks as our girl's schools are on different schedules. The first one is for my our college daughter later in March. She's lucky enough to come home and celebrate her birthday. The main spending is her airline ticket home, which was kind of pricy, but I expect that may be because I was a little late getting it purchased, and it is spring break in so many places!
My husband is taking the week off, so we hope to do some fun things while she is home.

The other spring break in April will have us traveling back to our home states to visit colleges for our younger daughter. She will be a senior next year, so it is time to start exploring options and interests. Our airline tickets for all three of us on Southwest were $997. This was a much better deal than the single ticket mentioned above. We will stay with my parents most of the nights, but will get a hotel for two nights when we are in another state. I believe we can use Marriott points. I will look into that option later today.

Our travel expenses sure have increased since we moved so far away from family! I am thankful that we are not bogged down with debt payments that would make it so much harder to make these trips happen.

Decluttering Means eBay Listings

February 19th, 2017 at 03:00 pm

I've been decluttering lately at our home. If you stopped by, you might think I barely have anything compared to the average American, but yet there is still stuff we don't use. I have been showing a bag of decluttering on my blog Your Organized Friend for the last week and there is more to come.

The decluttering has produced several items worth trying to sell. I'm not sure that they all will sell, but if I could get some money for most of them I would be happy. I have three items in the $40-30 range, and two items listed in the $8-10 range. I have one more item I'm washing first and hope to list it later tonight for at least $40.

I also came upon a few movies that might be worth listing, but I will need to find appropriate packaging for them first.

In other news, we had my van in for repair late last week. I had a situation where I went to pick up my daughter from school and went to start the van again and it wouldn't turn over at all. I was able to start it an hour later without a jump start. The repair shop eventually recreated the issue. It was the alternator that was bad, which then caused the battery to go out prematurely. We did get a free replacement battery as it was still under warranty. With military discounts an alternator with a three year warranty and labor cost us $530. We do have the cash to pay it for which I am thankful. I also feel much better knowing that I won't have a problem starting my van again in the future!

Returning Shirts & More

February 13th, 2017 at 11:24 am

My husband decided that two of the workout shirts, Nike brand, are too wide in the neck area. He wants them returned. They were each $18.75. With tax, that will net us $40.13 back in our budget. I will probably look for different shirts, preferably ones that cost half as much!

We bought a small bouquet of roses at the commissary yesterday when we were shopping for groceries. Those cost just $5.75! We also found valentine cards here at home for our girls. I'm sure my husband will still buy one for me.

We also bought five boxes of girl scout cookies. Those cost $20, but should fulfill our girl scout cookie needs for the season. I am sending one box to my daughter as a surprise.

I'm going to be doing a declutter series at [/url=http://yourorganizedfriend.blogspot.com/]Your Organized Friend[/url]. I'm decluttering one bag at a time. If you need some inspiration, stop on over!

Spending Yesterday

February 12th, 2017 at 06:36 am

Yesterday, we did a bit of needed spending. My daughter needed a new purse as her old one had a broken zipper. I had a $10 coupon at JC Penney and the purse (leather) was on sale for $33. A very good deal. Unfortunately, my husband didn't do the best with his shopping. He picked up three workout T shirts, Nike Brand, that he told me were $11 each. One rang up as $21, and the other two for $18.75 each. He did get long sleeve shirt on clearance for $8.99. He went backed and looked at the display and didn't read it right. Ugh! I'm letting him keep them as it just isn't worth the effort to fight him on it. He is not a good shopper, luckily he doesn't shop for new things too often.

I bought a 10 pack of no show socks for $11.99 at Kohl's. I had a $6 coupon (for my 6 year anniversary with my Kohl's card) so I paid just over $6 out of pocket. Now that is my kind of deal!

We shopped at Fresh Market for some ingredients to make two meals. This one was yummy! I have a ton of leftovers, too. The cost of the food, including some snacks, was nearly $39. We also bought some other vitamins, so the bill was $65 exactly.

Today we go do our regular grocery shopping trip at the commissary. I think I may buy some Girl Scout cookies, if there is a troop selling there today. Otherwise, we are staying home and will enjoy some time outside. It's going to be 82 degrees here! Spring really is coming. I'm already seeing buds on trees, and some trees already put out pink blooms! I'm sharing for those of you up north. It really is just around the corner. Hang in there!

Oh, and I heard my husband mention picking up flowers and Valentine's cards for my daughter and I. Last year, I convinced him not too. I'm not sure what to say this year. It's hard to squash someone's nice intentions!

And finally, did you look at your retirement accounts? Probably at an all time high once again. It is nice to see!

What I Don't Buy

February 10th, 2017 at 08:07 am

I like to revisit this topic once in awhile for new readers (and us oldies, too). Down below is a list of things many people buy that I don't as a more frugal spender. Now, of course, the list is not all inclusive as it is hard to remember things I don't buy since I don't think about them at all. I was inspired to write this post after watching a lot of decluttering videos on YouTube. It was interesting to see what people had purchased that they were decluttering. Many items were things I don't even own, or now no longer own as I don't buy them.

Scented candles
I noticed that a lot of people buy these in multiples and then never use them fully. If I buy a candle I use it all up before I would buy another.

Nail Polish
I own two bottles of nail polish. Both are almost gone, but I've been using these on my toes in the summer for quite a few years.

Make-up
I have basic foundation, one lipstick, one palette of eye shadow, one eye liner, and powder. That is it! Very simple when I use makeup which is probably less than ten times a year. I read about what is in makeup and decided I didn't like putting it on my face everyday!

Magazines
I have had a few subscriptions in the past, but over time realized I wasn't getting any satisfaction reading them. Saves me time and money.

Books
I use the library!

Jewelry
I'm simple. I own one pair of earnings, a pearl necklace, and probably four rings, although I only wear my wedding ring daily.

Newspapers
Got of of the subscription habit of newspapers when we moved the last time.

Scented Lotions
Same reason I don't wear makeup, too many chemicals. I'm lucky that I don't have very dry skin. I do have some chemical free lotions, but I take forever to use them!

Valentine/St Patrick's Day/Easter/July 4th/Thanksgiving decor
I've come to see these items put out in stores as just a way to part me from our hard earned money. I only decorate for Christmas and rarely buy new items.

Appliances and kitchen tools for only one purpose
My waffle maker, coffee maker, toaster are exceptions. However, have you noticed all the new gadgets for kitchens that come out when a simple tool, like a knife, could do the same thing!

Multiples of anything (such as excess sheets, blankets, towels, scissors, pens) particularly those that don't get used up quickly.
We have one set of sheets per bed. We have two towels per person, plus a set for guests. We buy what we need, nothing more.

Stickers
This was one I saw many people decluttering. This is one that people probably accumulate because they are inexpensive or cute, but then they don't use them up!

Containers
I avoid buying baskets and bins. I have some obviously, but I'm not of the mindset that I have to go buy a container to be organized. I've let go of so much in the last few years, that I have bins I could probably let go of!

Phone cases and Purses
Why buy more than one, when one will do? I have a simple black purse that goes with everything. And if it doesn't? Who cares!

The newest electronics
I still have an iPod Nano from 2006!

Collectibles and knick knacks
I don't collect anything. I don't get the satisfaction at all from this kind of accumulation. And it costs so much money. And I dislike dusting around these kinds of things!!

Clothes
I do buy them, but very rarely. I purchased one new shirt during the fall/winter time period. I wear things until they are clearly out of style or have worn out. I only buy what I need. I own two pairs of jeans for example.

Pajamas
I simple wear a T shirt and workout type pants to bed. I don't need specific clothes for sleeping in.

Lingerie
I stick to the basics with bra and underwear. And I only own three bras.

Movies
These are expensive too and add up! We love movies, so we do watch some of them over again. However, we only buy two to three per year...not every new release.

Alcohol when I eat out
I'm usually the driver as my husband does get alcohol at restaurants. I can't stand the expense!

Disposable products
I avoid paper plates, cups, silverware, wipes, dryer sheets, napkins, Keurig cups. We use paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, Swiffer cloths (have used flannel well in the past), coffee filters. I reuse plastic bags (unless they had a meat product in them) and my daughter has reusable sandwich bags for her lunch.

Gift bags
We been given more gifts in bags and have accumulated plenty to use for the future. I've also been know to wrap a gift in simple color tissue paper, as it is not too costly.

Greeting cards
I do send some, but I send fewer and fewer every year. The cost adds up as does the cost of stamps. I also then spend less time shopping and running out for a card.

Stamps to pay a bill
I now use Bill Pay with my bank to send checks, including our rent check. Most other bills are paid directly with the provider, usually by credit card.

Subscription boxes
I can't even think of the name of some of these subscriptions, but they are like Fruit of the Month club for makeup and organic products.

Traditional Phone Line
We use Ooma to save money. We may opt out entirely at some point in the near future.

Excessive Data Plans
I know compared to some of you we spend more on our cell phones as we use Verizon. The four of us share 3GB of data. My neighbor mentioned that three of them in her family share 10GB of data! I wonder if they have tried to conserve at all?

Excessive Cable Channels
We only have basic to have any signal at all. I did like when we had an over the air antenna at our last house. The cost was just the initial investment. I wonder if we need it at all. We rarely watch any tv.

High end brand name clothing
Do people not realize they are paying for the brand name? I know some brands are worth the investment as the quality is good, but most are just fashion statements...declaring to the world that you overpaid for your clothes!

Gym membership
We have a treadmill and a few basic weights and bands. In the past we did have a membership and did use the gym!

Extended warranties
We nearly always turn these down. They simply add to the cost of what you are buying. It would be better to save the money and set aside if the item ever needs repair. So many things don't break! We did have a warranty on one computer and the screen broke, that warranty did pay for that. Years later something similar happened with a broken screen and I bought a new screen and installed it myself for under $50.

Trendy shoes
I may have already mentioned I don't follow many fashion trends. I try to stick with basic or classic looks. I also don't have a need for lots of shoes.

Cookbooks (remember no books!)
I only own one cookbook. I find all other recipes online for free.

Vacation souvenirs
I limit these. I find pictures of family on vacation are the best souvenir.

New school supplies every year
We reuse markers, backpacks, rulers, pens, calculators, lunch boxes. We restock the items that get used up or worn out like binders and paper.

Coffee Mugs
I have a set of eight and I don't see a need for ones that have other graphics or new designs. Just let go of two snowman ones that my daughters used to drink hot chocolate out of.

Stationary
I think thank you notes are nice to send. And I'm not against writing real letters. But the truth is, I tend to email or call someone. I was seeing hoards of journals, notepads, sticky notes that some of these people were getting rid of. We still have more than we need in our home that the girls accumulated when they were younger.

Organizers
I only buy an organizer if it solves a very specific problem that cannot be solved in another way. In fact, at the moment I can't think of any specific organizers that would qualify that reside in my home. I mainly have bins, large and small. Some baskets. But my first instinct is not to buy new containers.

Bleach and other toxic cleaners
Air fresheners (plug ins and sprays)
Most of these items are just too strong to use in our home. And they are not safe to breath in.

Specialty trays and serving platters
Holiday kitchen linens
My basic placements work year round in our home. I don't buy aprons for each season, napkins for each holiday or even serving pieces when our basic china will do.

I suppose I really could go on and on with what I don't buy. I just thought of craft items. I do sew, but I only buy fabric for specific projects and if I have leftover, I use it for other smaller projects.

What things do you avoid buying? Think of all the money we save and time acquiring those things. I'm overwhelmed thinking about if I had to start buying the things I listed!

Fourth Semester Tuition & Housing Paid in Full

February 9th, 2017 at 12:07 pm

I just made the electronic payment from our checking account for the full spring tuition and housing bill. I admit it was a little hard to click the submit button!

The full amount was $10,426.56. Of that amount, $4,662.65 was for spring room and board. That includes a discount ($353) for being a second year student. Books and supplies were $267. The rest was tuition for classes after her scholarships. She is taking 17 credits this semester, so that bumps up a bill pretty fast compared to a 12 credit hour semester.

I've been really focused on getting this bill paid. I do need to consider how much two online classes this summer might cost and figure how we might pay for those. I think those classes may be the last ones we would pay in full out of pocket before we start using the Post 911/GI Bill.

I do feel blessed that we are able to provide a college education for our daughter. And to do it without loans thus far is a bonus. I know she is grateful as well.

Interest, Tuition Funding & More

February 1st, 2017 at 05:51 am

We earned $79.08 in interest during the month of January. I hope to see that bump up a little now that more ($15K) of our money is invested at 2%.

I withdrew $4,750 from our daughter's Educational Savings account. That money will be used to cover most of her housing costs for the semester. She has $4839 left in her account. This is in a interest bearing account, so she is earning a little money on it each month.

Since it is officially payday today, I can say that I initially allocated $814 towards tuition. But I also didn't fund all of our usual everyday spending categories in YNAB specifically clothing and entertainment. That means I have another $100 to add to the tuition pot, and finally I decided that the electric bill (that really big one of $315) can actually be paid on our next paycheck on February 15. With those funds, funds saved from last few paychecks, the money from the ESA, and our tax refund, I am now only short $205.31!!

But as I'm writing this I'm also realizing that the books I bought my daughter for school have been allocated to that tuition category in YNAB. They were charged to my American Express card which I currently have 0% interest offer on. Therefore, I don't need to pay that off this pay period. That gives us another $153. Now I'm only short $48!!

I did realize that with my husband's travel reimbursement we might make a little money. It depends on how much he spends on food over what the per diem is. I think he will submit his request for reimbursement on Friday, and it should get paid within a week, maybe in time to pay the tuition bill! This would be a little less out of our savings that we would need to pay back.

I'm feeling much better about this huge tuition bill! I think I can likely shave $48 off our spending with some careful planning over the next 10 days.

I took our younger daughter back to Walmart yesterday to get more school supplies. ANOTHER binder, a 3 subject notebook, and dividers were required. We also bought a 4 pack of AAA batteries and a package of glue sticks to donate to two teachers. That was another $22. Why are office supplies so expensive? The 3 subject notebook was $4.24! The teacher did say they could use three regular notebooks, but my daughter did prefer the combined version for the easy of carrying around. I'm not going to make her sacrifice for a couple dollars.

Continuing Frugal

January 31st, 2017 at 08:42 am

I think we are continuing our version of frugal through mid February. That is when tuition is due, so I want to keep the spending to a minimum. My husband and I discussed greatly reducing our alcohol intake primarily for health reasons, but that would be very good on our budget. I will let you know how that works out.

I just ate leftover mushroom barley soup for lunch today. I pulled that out from the freezer. It was probably two servings, but I ate them both! So yummy and really not very caloric. I think I may be having soup all week, as I have a can of soup in the pantry and another soup in the freezer (Moroccan Lentil).

I will need to grocery shop today. I need apples and crackers for my daughter's lunch tomorrow. I made a list of other items to cover the rest of the week. I will buy today, but count the purchase as a February expense.

I checked our bank accounts this morning. The tax refund and my husband's paycheck are both pending for deposit tomorrow! I plan to redeem shares from my daughter's Educational Savings account tomorrow to cover a portion of the tuition bill. At this point we appear to be about $600 short of what we need. As I have said all along, I will use our regular savings to cover the shortfall and pay ourselves back. No loans for her or us this semester is the plan, and I'm sticking to it!

Oh, I saw this on the SA forum this morning. It's under freebies, but it is more about spreading kindness and love. Check it out if you are interested!

School Supplies & More

January 30th, 2017 at 01:58 pm

Today's big spending was on a binder for school. The cost of it was $7.21 with tax at Walmart. It wasn't the cheapest option. She chose one that she know will hold up for the semester. She is a bit hard on them!

My daughter's new debit card for her checking account arrived today. We have now activated it. She also deposited her two checks received at Christmas into her new account, using our mobile app. We also ordered checks. Luckily they just send 40 at a time now. I wonder how long it may take for her to use those up! The checks are free through our bank.

I ate leftover fried rice with tofu for lunch. I think I cooked the tofu just fine. I did use turmeric to color it, so it did remind me of having eggs in it. My daughter decided she didn't like the different texture of tofu with the rice though. Lucky for her we are just having pasta and broccoli for dinner which she does like.

We did go to the store last night and picked up several items, primarily cereal and milk. And two snacks. I think there was something else too. We spent about $14.

Oh, and I had to buy fuel for my van! I was literally on empty when we went to the grocery store. I only filled it up halfway primarily because the pump was VERY slow. I spent $20.02.

Isn't it hard to believe January is about over?

More Credit Card Rewards

January 29th, 2017 at 07:52 am

I redeemed $12 from our USAA Visa rewards. That money will be deposited in our checking account on Monday. I have designated those funds toward tuition, of course!

I plan to redeem rewards from our Chase Freedom account, but not until after the next statement closes which is on February 12. I will have already paid tuition at that point, but the rewards will help start building back up some of the savings accounts we have designated on YNAB. The thing I don't like about Chase Freedom rewards is that you can only redeem in full after you have earned $20. I currently have $21+ I can redeem. However, I expect with this next statement to have another $2. So I will wait and have that money added to the current balance and redeem in full, rather than have $2 I don't have access to if I redeemed now. We are going to stop using the Chase Freedom card for awhile, so there will not be any rewards accumulating in the near future.

We went to Panera for dinner last night. We spent $33.20. The movie tickets cost us $22.47. We enjoyed the movie, the meal and time spent with our daughter. After that spending our everyday funds account is down to $198. My husband needs to take $100 out for a work trip (reimbursed later) this week. So that leaves $98 for the next three days. I may need fuel, but I think we can get by with food on hand until payday on Wednesday.

The only spending that could come up is any school supplies my daughter might need to start the new semester. One teacher has already requested students bring ruler, calculator, spiral notebook and colored pencils. And I'm 99% sure we have all of those.

I think I'm going to keep myself busy the next couple days doing some cleaning around our house. That shouldn't cost me anything!

Refund Arrives Wednesday

January 28th, 2017 at 08:55 am

Our tax refund is scheduled to arrive in our bank account on Wednesday, February 1. I submitted them on Sunday, January 22. That is a pretty fast turn around! That $1497 refund is going straight to pay the tuition bill, which has been my plan all along.

I forgot to mention that I redeemed our Discover Rewards and had them deposited in our bank account this week. A whopping $3.37. I seem to earn the least amount of rewards from this card. We don't use it much, so I think I'm going to close it in my desire to keep things a bit simpler.

We are going to a matinee movie today. We are going to see Moana, which our daughter is interested in. We will pay $6 per person for admission. Afterwards we may stop for a quick dinner as our celebration of the first semester ending. It may just be Subway. I do have coupons there that expire tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will probably have fried rice for dinner. With tofu, which I have not made in years. Any advice for using it with fried rice? Do I just drain, cube it and add in?

Used The Rice

January 27th, 2017 at 07:18 pm

I used up the arborio rice this evening when I made mushroom risotto. I also used up the white cooking wine. Bonus!

I stopped at Walmart, after finally dropping off library books, and picked up the fresh parmesan cheese for the risotto. That was my only spending today. My husband picked up his usual Friday alcohol, although he did buy one less bottle. So that helped save another $10.

It's not particularly frugal but we may go out to dinner tomorrow night. Our daughter finished her first semester of her junior year this week, and it feels like our first free weekend where she has zero homework. We want to get out and celebrate!! I'm guessing she will chose something simple so it won't get too out of hand with the spending.

Payday is on Wednesday. We have $254. I'd be thrilled with at least half of that to apply towards tuition due February 12.

$20 Snowflake

January 26th, 2017 at 02:41 pm

I was surprised today to see a $20 credit on our credit card from Ooma. I thought I was going to get that last month, but when I didn't see it I figured the referral didn't pan out. But it did! That snowflake is going towards tuition.

I spent $6 on a soda, two avocados and chicken broth. I was going to make a mushroom risotto tonight, until I realized I didn't buy the parmesan cheese for it! To avoid another trip to the store today, I decided to just make fish and stuffed portobello mushrooms for dinner. And of course, we still have a lot of salad to eat as well.

I did some more sewing today, just because it made me happy. I'm focusing on feeling good rather than feeling bad. Part of that means doing things I like and avoiding the news and Facebook that make me feel bad. I've seen far too many people thinking their point of view is the only way to think, which leads me to see them as uncaring and unkind. That isn't how I want to think!! So avoidance is best at this point. I think all people have the ability to be kind, compassionate, forgiving, accepting and patient. And I'm going to focus on that as much as I can in the coming weeks and months.

Rising Stock Market Plus More

January 25th, 2017 at 04:40 pm

The stock market is up today! The Dow Jones Industrial Average even closed above 20K points for the first time ever. I checked out retirement accounts and today alone our balances rose $3,318! And we are up $12,981 since the beginning of January.

I am able to see my husband's LES (pay stub) for next week's pay. The change for withholding was made, but they don't seem to be showing the 1% increase to his TSP. This means his check was slightly inflated. It shows online that the payment is processing, so I guess I didn't meet the deadline to make that change for this month. Oh well, it will all work out.

I input my husband's net pay into YNAB. I figured out that I can add at least $815 from that check to apply towards tuition. I may pay our high electric bill AFTER the 15th of February, so I can apply the cash I set aside for it to tuition. Again, I'm trying to avoid taking any cash from savings, so it really is about cash flow and adjusting when I make some payments.

I spent $7.32 today on two things at Walmart and postage to mail two packages. I'm watching my fuel tank to see if I can't wait until Tuesday to fill up. That may be pushing it, but I will try.

Dinner was breakfast foods. I made pancakes for our daughter and I. My husband came home later than usual, so he made himself some eggs. Tomorrow we will finally use up the arborio rice when I make a mushroom risotto.

Soup, Sewing & Southwest

January 24th, 2017 at 06:30 pm

I ate soup two times today. That one is now gone. I have two other kinds in the freezer, which we will likely eat later this week. It feels like we are doing pretty good with the food overall.

I did my sewing today. I made two keychains and four little tissue covers. I put links to the instructions I used, if you are interested. I've made the key chains before. The tissue covers were new for me to sew, but they are super easy!

I heard from Southwest Airlines that they will refund the Early Bird fee I paid. This was for a flight that they cancelled when my daughter was trying to get back to school. That is $15 back in my pocket. I also read that Southwest Rapids Rewards program is changing a policy about transferring hotel loyalty rewards to their program AND allowing it to count for the Companion Pass. They have extended the grace period so they can count until March 31, 2017. We have started using our Southwest card again and are hoping to rack up enough qualifying points to make this possible. We have Marriott Rewards that could make this happen much easier. Now that I know the deadline, I may consider moving some of the rewards to help make this happen. Here is the post on Southwest's website.

I was tempted to run out for a couple things today, but decided they could wait. I will need to go to the post office tomorrow or Thursday to mail the gifts. I will pick up those few items at that time, thus saving some gas and time!

Although, I'm remembering I did spend some money today. I ordered an item for my daughter for her birthday in March. She gave the hint last week, and the item could run out...maybe. I decided since I had money in the birthday account to just get it done!

I also opened up a Youth Checking account for our youngest daughter today. I had to put in a $25 minimum deposit. I figure my daughter can write me a check to pay me back as a good way to start understanding check writing. I think she probably already knows, just hasn't actually done it herself.


Soup from the Freezer

January 23rd, 2017 at 06:46 pm

I thawed soup from the freezer for dinner tonight. I may have thawed a bit too much, but I will eat it for lunch the next few days. Tomorrow night we will have pasta with salad. Actually, I might have soup with salad, and just make the pasta for DH and my daughter.

My sister and mother's birthday's are fast approaching. My sister and I have an agreement not to exchange these last couple years. However, I'm thinking I may sew them each something. I noticed one of the lanyards I made for my sister was looking quite worn last time I saw her. I feel pretty confident I have fabric on hand that will work. Cost will simply be mailing the package, less than $3 each is my guess.

I sold some Box Tops on eBay! My net profit is $11.37. Actually a bit less, since I did put a stamp on the envelope. I'm also redeeming 300 points with Pinecone. That $3 should arrive in my PayPal account tomorrow. And finally, I have enough SB to redeem for a $5 Amazon gift card. I may just keep accumulating and go for a $25 Paypal cash, it depends if I find something on Amazon I need. Smile

Our tax returns were accepted. I'm going to log in tomorrow to see if the IRS indicates a date to except our refund. I know the site currently indicates 21 days or less.



Taxes, Tuition & More

January 21st, 2017 at 06:49 am

I was looking for our interest statement on Navy Federal Credit Union's website yesterday. I couldn't find it, or last years. Turns out they mail it to you, and it arrived in our mailbox yesterday afternoon. My husband's W2 was also available on the MyPay website, so that meant I could start working on our taxes! I am still waiting for one more interest form, but I do know the amount. It looks like we will get a $1497 refund. We couldn't quite claim the full American Opportunity tax credit, but we were very close, having spent $3813 in qualified expenses out of pocket in 2016. I do prefer to have a smaller refund, but I think I deliberately did this last year, knowing the refund could be used towards tuition in February.

Tuition and housing bill was forwarded to me by my daughter last night. The total is $10,426, which includes $4662 for room and board. The rest is tuition, fees and books after her scholarship of $7250. She is taking 17 credit hours this semester, so that inflates the bill a bit. And remember she is an non resident student. I'll write more about tuition and paying the bill in another post.

Yesterday, I bought a few groceries and some junk food. I spent about $15 on six items. Three will be used for meals, but we also bought ice cream, cookies and a diet coke! Ugh. That isn't frugal in the least, and definitely not healthy. And it was all my idea to stop because I suggested ice cream to my daughter.

We are going to the matinee of Hidden Figures today. The admission will be $16.50 for the three of us. I expect my husband will get something at the concession stand. I have $40 allocated in our entertainment budget, anything we don't spend I'm putting towards that tuition bill! Every dollar counts.

Tonight we will have fried rice for dinner. I have peas to add, since I bought those for the tuna casserole I made a couple nights ago. Today we will probably just have leftover pizza, pasta and salad for lunch. There is a lot of salad to use up!

I might write more about this later, but there was discussion of annual credit card spending on the forums. Our annual credit card spending for 2016 was $49,384. I'm not sure I have ever looked at the annual amount before. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. It's good as it is less than half of our gross income. And we didn't pay any interest to use those cards for spending. I'm guessing it is slightly inflated, because it includes my daughter's Europe trip.

Have you started your taxes? Do you know what your annual credit card spending is? What are you having for dinner?

More Food Used Up

January 19th, 2017 at 05:13 pm

I made tuna casserole tonight. We haven't had that in years! It came up recently when we had a friend over and my husband seemed very interested in having it after it was mentioned. I did have those two cans of tuna to use up so I bought the other ingredients to make it. Of course, now I have extra noodles and peas!

My husband made a lot of salad this week, and I haven't been eating as much of it as I should as I've been eating other leftovers. I'm starting to realize we buy more food than we can eat. I think he is starting to notice it too. I'm going to try to have a leftover night once or twice a week. And we do freeze extras with some frequency so that does help avoid food waste.

My daughter and I got our hairs cut today. Smile Cost was $30 with tip at Great Clips. I think I got mine last cut in November, but I sometimes go much longer. My daughter has a very short cut, so I'm taking her once a month now! A big change compared to getting her long hair cut two or three times a year.

A check for $26.40 arrived at our home today. It was from the overage charged by the oral surgeon when my daughter had her wisdom teeth removed. The check is payable to her! I paid, but I suppose since she is 19 they figured it was hers? I decided I would just send it to her though and she can keep it. She's a college student...probably can use the cash!



Electric Bill and Van Repair

January 16th, 2017 at 09:20 am

Our electric bill for last month showed up in my inbox last week. I was scared to look. The temperatures were much lower than normal for this time of year and the heat was running a lot. And yes, I did have Christmas lights on a few hours each night. Total bill is $315!! Last year it was $183. The highest in the last year was March at $257, with July in a close second at $253. I know we could reduce the heat, but it is very hard to get my husband on board with that in the winter as he gets cold very easy.

Today the van was in to look at the air conditioning again. They didn't find a leak, but found the relay was sticking. This was my theory of the problem last time it was in, but they said it was fine. It has been replaced for just under $79.

I leftover tacos for lunch. Tonight I will use the bone broth and the white kidney beans and chicken to make a White Chicken Chili. It's so yummy!

Still Eating It Up

January 15th, 2017 at 03:52 pm

Before we went grocery shopping today, I checked on our items we need to use up. We actually made very good progress last week. I will incorporate a lot of the items we still need to use up, including the rice, sour cream, the white kidney beans, 2 cans of tuna, and the Wasa crackers.

Our grocery trip included cat food for the rest of the month, paper towels, lotion, dish soap, toothpaste, bar soap, coffee, and generic Swiffer cloths. Our total was $168.87. The food total was $126.79. The food total is more than I would have liked, but we did include more meat this week. We really did use up a lot of things last week.

Unfortunately, we came home and realized we paid for several things that didn't get bagged and put into our cart! We didn't bring home the two boxes of generic Swiffer cloths, taco shells, cereal, and a bag of tortilla chips. This is nearly $12 worth of stuff!! The commissary is a bit of a trip (30 minutes or more), so I don't really want to make a special trip to complain. My husband will be on post on Tuesday, but I'm not sure he wants to deal with getting $12 back. Just frustrating!



We Ate Subway

January 14th, 2017 at 12:44 pm

We were out of town this morning. Our event ended around noon and we were hungry. The three of us stopped at Subway before we headed home. We spent $20.65. This is where our habits and lack of planning cost us money. I'm not really upset about it. If I were being truly frugal we would have prepared a lunch at home and brought it with us.

I have updated YNAB with payday funds. We had about $111 that we didn't spend during the first half of the month. I put that in the college tuition and housing bucket. After allocating for regular investments, bills and spending categories, I had almost another $1700 from our current paycheck to put towards tuition. I now have $2935 set aside. I need about $4K total, so I'm still short. I think I can get pretty close on my husband's next paycheck. And since we do have cash, I can actually pay it and then repay ourselves once we do have funds.

Tonight for dinner, we are having fried rice with some of that chicken I made earlier in the week. We have some salad to finish as well. I need to make my meal plan for next week so we can get our grocery shopping done tomorrow! I hope to incorporate some more rice and some soups into our plan.

And Now It's 70+ Degrees

January 13th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Heatwave! It's over 70 degrees here this afternoon. My husband is off work today for the holiday weekend. He decided it was time to wash the van (he did the truck two days ago). On his outing to do this (and spend $20!!!) he realized the air conditioning was not cooling. We now have an appointment on Monday. It has been in sometime in the last few months for this problem and one of the things they did was add a dye so that if it did stop working again it would help them find the leak. So fingers crossed this isn't too big of an expense!

We did talk about going to a movie today, but in the end we skipped it. I'm kind of glad since he wanted to spend the money washing the van. We don't wash our cars that often now that we are not in an area putting salt down on roadways too often. My husband does want to protect them so they last us a long time. A small investment, although he really could do this in the driveway! I pick my battles.

Despite the long weekend, so far my husband has avoided picking up alcohol. I mentioned I didn't want to drink much, if any this weekend, so that may be a factor. We do have my daughter's friend over this evening, and I need to be the driver to get her home. We might save a little money if we can avoid drinking most of the nights this weekend.

I pulled some more food out of our storm supplies. Non perishables that I will want replenished this summer anyway. I wanted a couple snacks for the girls if needed. I think this friend may be in one of those homes that is considered food insecure. Frown I want her to fill up while she is here if she wants to. It is a long weekend away from school.

And I made a mistake with some of my daughter's books. I sent them to ME, rather than her!! They arrived this afternoon. Luckily she is not in need of them right away. I probably could have reordered and then returned the ones that arrived here, but instead I ran to the post office and got them sent off Priority Mail. That cost me $13.45. An oops expenditure!

I'm just 70 Swagbucks away from getting a $15 Amazon gift card. Once it arrives I'm going to order my daughter's allergy medicine. She takes Zyrtec nearly daily, so we stock up once a year. The cost is just $15.99.

I finished the chicken salad I made yesterday. I had it as a sandwich. We are definitely going to need to get to the store soon. Our stash of food is dwindling. There are still things that need to be used up, but we need other things to go with them. I will be sure to incorporate many of them into my meal planning for next week!


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